Drooling, sleepiness, licking, and purring–my cats and I act the same way when we’re intoxicated. Laura and I are the caretakers of two beloved felines: Colonel Whiskers & Little Shinobi.
These two miscreants love eating, sleeping, and re-enacting battle scenes from Saving Private Ryan at 4am. Other hobbies include sitting on laptops and attacking window shades.
They also love to get high on a regular basis thanks to an organic compound called nepetalactone. No jobs, no responsibilities, 16-hour naps… I’m basically supporting two useless, greasy teenagers.
And we all get toasted together!
Nepetalactone is the active attractant found in catnip–a common perennial plant belonging to the mint species. Many cats like to sniff and chew dried catnip clippings; gently bruising the leaves releases the nepetalactone and gives cats a quick, innocent, euphoric “high” feeling. They typically spend the next fifteen to twenty minutes pawing, licking, purring, and rolling around. I exhibit similar behavior under similar conditions.
Catnip has been shown to have behavioral effects on larger cat species like tigers and leopards, too.
Not all cats are affected by catnip. The phenomenon is hereditary.
As a child, my family had an adorable demon kitty that was completely immune to the stuff. Not even the slightest interest or effect. He was a prolific hunter, though. And I suppose getting stoned all the time would have distracted him from hunting. He loved to catch small critters and leave them on my pillow as presents. Coming home from kindergarten to a bed full of dead animals was scarring to say the least.
It took me a while to understand cats…
Rehabilitation not Incarceration!
Catnip is not addictive. Cats don’t stress out when they’re coming down from a catnip high. They don’t crave more and more. You won’t catch your kitty sneaking out in the middle of the night to score a jar of ‘nip from his dealer or lifting twenty bucks from your wallet when you’re sleeping.
However, catnip can cause some cats to behave aggressively. Typically, the aggression stems from an elevated level of excitement and euphoria, so watch your cat to see how it reacts to getting high. Some cats have sensitive stomachs, too. Excessive amounts of catnip can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
Cats, like humans, can get paranoid or anxious. Not everyone can handle the trip. Make sure to have plenty of soft pillows, chill music, and cold water on hand. You know, for your cat…